Ryan Joseph Allen’s life was on a downward trajectory. As a child, he felt different from other kids and struggled to fit in. Even at a tender age he contemplated suicide. In his teenage years and as a young adult, he hid his true self and numbed his emotional turmoil with alcohol, drugs, and self-destructive behaviors. When he summoned the courage to share his secret and come out to a close friend, her response added another layer of self-hatred. How could he love and accept himself as a gay man when he was taught that God and the Church considered it wrong?
In “My Drug Dealer Brought Me to God,” Allen recounts his quest to find meaning, self-acceptance, and his life’s purpose. He battles addiction, the heartache of disappointing, toxic relationships, and alienation from his family. One day his co-worker, roommate, friend, and drug dealer, Marie, shares her belief that God made everyone for a purpose and wants us to be ourselves. The conversation ignites Allen’s new understanding of how faith can be inclusive, while stepping into his own definition of God.
Becoming a parent and the desire to be a positive role model for his daughter is a turning point. With God as the focal point of his spiritual journey, Allen comes to understand that change has to start from within. He breaks the cycle of family trauma and recognizes his true mission: to teach, support, motivate, and lead other people to love. He learns to balance his faith while affirming and being a warrior for the LGBTQ+ community. Allen’s honesty and courage in telling his story is an inspiring message to us all that everyone has a story to share, and within sharing our collective stories we can all grow and heal.